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Department of African American Studies

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Andrew Billingsley Community Leadership Award

Andrew Billingsley Community Leadership Award

Darion McCloud, creative founder/director, NiA Theatre Company

Congratulations to Darion McCloud, 2018 recipient of the Andrew Billingsley Community Leadership Award.

McCloud is the founder and creative director of NiA Theatre Company in Columbia. McCloud is also an actor, director, storyteller, educator, arts activist and children’s literature advocate who has committed his life to the transforming power of art.

For more than 14 years the NiA Company has thrilled audiences from Hartsville to Charleston performing its "boundary pushing" adult shows (Top dog Underdog, Orange Flower Water, Jesus Hopped the A Train) or having family fun with its Backyard Theatre or “Holla!!!” series. NiA can be counted on to provide heartfelt, fun, daring entertainment.

As a professional storyteller, McCloud has performed in venues as varied as prisons and governor’s mansions, though he may be most fond of being the favorite of many school children.

McCloud said, “My work with black families begins long ago. Before people popularly referred to such things as social justice, we called it “’helping out, looking out and doing the right thing.’” The “‘right thing’” was an action addressing a need fueled by respect and love---love of community, self, love. As I matured, the right thing looked like sharing children’s literature with families and creating opportunities for young artists.”

Darion’s directing credits include The Whipping Man, Intimate Apparel, Our Lady of 121st Street, Br’er Rabbit, Fat Pig, What’chamacallit!

McCloud was nominated by Distinguished Professor Dianne Johnson-Feelings.

“Darion is a leader in this community. Part of what solidifies his stature is that he is generous with his time and talents. He is an example of how one lives out his convictions. He is an example of how one contributes to the community in which he was born and raised, He knows the families he interacts with, understands them and serves them with everything he has to give,” Johnson-Feelings said.







Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.